El Blog

Love is an extra $15

Last Tuesday, I joined some friends for a late dinner and a drink at The Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club in Boystown. It was a perfect summer evening, and we sat outdoors in the patio enjoying delicious martini after delicious martin, after delicious martini–oh, and there was some good food somewhere in there, too. At some point later in the evening, the host came through our seating area and asked if anyone wanted to get their tarot cards read by the reader inside the bar.

“You guys should get one; she’s good. Really. Last year, she predicted that I’d be working where I work now,” said Letty, rhythmically tapping her index finger down on the table to signal the veracity of her claim. “It’s only $15–plus tip if it’s a, you know, ‘good reading.’”

My friends’ heads nodded with interest, and their eyebrows raised in belief. Looking down into the bottom of my drink, I saw that I was the only serious skeptic out of us four. A devout atheist. A woman of science. And a woman outnumbered at the table. So, a reading for fifteen dollars, plus tip? In my head, I did the math: $15 + $5 = four $5 martinis. But then I did some more math: X number of existing drinks already consumed + 4 additional = embarrassingly drunk. By my new set of calculations, I needed to get my cards read–right then and there. Still reluctant, though, and absolutely confident that this reader was not going to tell me anything of value about my future or myself, I agreed to get a reading on the condition that I sit in on my friend Beto’s reading first. I needed to observe the reader’s methods to feel more comfortable with the hocus-pocus of it all. Beto agreed and we added our names to the list. We headed inside to sit with the reader when the host called us.

The reader had her table set up in the window, right by the entrance to the bar. She sat with her back to the window, and Beto sat next to her. I sat across from them, with my back to the drag show going on behind me. I was tempted to turn at one point during Beto’s reading to check out the Diana Ross impersonator, but then I thought that might mess up the energy at the table or something.

“Beto, there are a lot of areas we can peer into–health, work, love–but we need to focus. What do you want to hear about in this reading?”
“Um, work… and maybe some love, too.”
“We’ll do work for this reading. Love is an extra $15. Okay?”
“Oh, okay.”
She dealt the cards.
“Beto, I see there is an obstacle in your work life. Do you work more than one job?”
“Yes!” Beto shot a wide-eyed glance at me as if to ask if I, too, felt her unmistakable powers.
I rolled my eyes. Of course she would think he works more than one job: he’s cute, young, Mexican and at the Kit Kat on half-price martini night. From the looks of the clientele that night, about 90% of the patrons held more than one job–especially if we count artistic avocations not yet gone professional and perhaps tricking, too.
“The cards indicate that there is something you want to be doing that you are not. You need to move toward that. Does this mean anything to you? Is there something you want to move towards?”
“Well, yes, I want to go to school…”
“You need to do that. You need to work towards that–find what your obstacles are and don’t let up until you overcome, then will you…blah, blah…blah.”

His reading went on for a few more minutes. I started to squint and blink hard instead of rolling my eyes; it seemed less rude. I zoned out for a bit, listening to the blaring house music, trying to catch glimpses of the drag show in the reflection on the window I faced. The darting clubby lights from the performances directly behind me were all but absorbed by the dusty maroon table cloth and drooping garb of the reader. I stared at the rocks arranged in an arc above the area where she dealt her cards. Their dull surfaces reflected back sad muted colored pulses of the spectacle that surrounded us. Then, looking up, I saw Beto shake the reader’s hand and leave. He gave me a smile and thumbs up as he stood from the table and went back to the patio. He was a satisfied customer. I already had buyer’s remorse. Curiosity won. I leaned in and said hello. She asked me my name and birthday.

“Reyna, so you are a Capricorn? My moon is in Capricorn,” she said.
“Oh.” I muttered and nodded.

I told her I felt good in the career department and was painfully aware of my many health problems. All that was left was love.
“Are you dating?”
“Well, I have been. I mean, I was not too long ago, yes… but, no one woman in particular, now. I mean, you know, I’m not seriously dating anyone at this moment, and I’m not looking for anything serious now either but…” I stuttered my mouth shut. I already sounded stupid to myself. Why was I here?
She dealt the cards.
“I see here that you are going through a major transition. I know that, as a Capricorn, you especially value order and organization. You have been planning this transition for a while and now it is happening. As this culminates, your anxiety about it is peaking. Fever pitch currently. Does this sound right? What is this transition?”
“Yeah. Well, I just quit my job and I’m going back to school and I’m starting to… -I’m in the middle of a major career change, basically. Yeah, you can call it a major transition.”
She dealt more cards.
“It looks like, you cannot handle the unexpected now–including your own unexpected feelings. They are a disruption. You must steady yourself and tend to completing your transition before you can bring someone into your life.”
“Well, yeah…” I nodded. Duh. That was obvious.
She dealt again.
“I see there is someone you want to give your heart to. Is that true?”
“Um, maybe. I guess, so…sure.” I tried not to admit it. There was. I tried to play cool in front of the reader. She ignored me.
“Don’t. She will just drag your heart along; play with it. This is someone who you communicate with well and she seems to say the right things–things you want to hear–but something seems off still. Not genuine, perhaps. Am I right? Thinking about it frustrates you. As an old soul, as a Capricorn, you tire with this easily. But the reality is you cannot organize and order everything in your life, Reyna. You have to just be open to how things unfold, naturally. And sometimes they don’t unfold at all. In any case, you need to be more secure before you take risks with your heart.”

Damn. I thought to myself that her advice sounded exactly like what my best friend told me on the phone the other day–someone who has known me for many years. I just met this reader though. Now I had to grapple with this new development: this reader just totally read my ass.

“Right now, make yourself absent. Take care of yourself. When you are open, you will meet someone who is also open. It looks like here, you will have your next serious partner in the Fall. Maybe you will meet her at school. She will be a woman as busy as you are who also understands what you are trying to accomplish–someone who will understand why you are so serious and will be able to grow with you. You will grow together.”
“Weeeelllll, okkkaaaaay, then. Sounds about right.” I sighed. I didn’t want to hear that. I didn’t want to hear what I already knew. We wrapped it up. She gave me her card. I paid her. It was cheaper than therapy, at least.

I wondered how it was that I walked in confident that this reader didn’t know jack but ended up walking away feeling like she straight called me out. Her advice seemed sound. It felt true. It was true. Did she get this from random cards dealt on a table? No. From some sort of cosmic gift? Of course not. I wondered how it comes to be that some of us are more perceptive than normal people–and how still others remain completely oblivious to most everything outside themselves. Repeating her words to myself as I headed back to the table, I realized the tarot card reader doled out advice that was as individualized to me as a one-size-fits-most T-shirt from WalMart is. She was able to do this because I wasn’t as unique as I thought I was. None of us are. My personal problems are not as exceptional as I think they are. It had nothing to do with divining the future or clairvoyance. It had to do with me being just like every other ‘mo who sat down in front of her–male, female, female impersonator; full of questions and fears and problems and hidden truths that are rarely as hidden as we think.

Getting back to the table, Beto asked, “So… what did you think? Isn’t she good?”
Not acknowledging the reader’s supposedly extraordinary abilities, I instead gracefully conceded to my own mediocrity: “Yeah. She knew her stuff. Kinda weird, right?”

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